Consumers, crime and the downloading of music

Published as: Rutter, J. 2010. “Consumers, crime and the downloading of music”, Prometheus: Critical Studies in Innovation, 28(4), pp. 411-418.

Innovations in digital distribution (most often originating from outside the music recording and publishing industries) have significantly changed users’ relationships to the music they consume. As early as 1999, Shawn Fanning’s Napster had demonstrated that there was a demand for digital music and that consumers were willing to trade the music quality of CDs for convenience as they downloaded small files from huge, illegal, online collections. Although the exchange of files across networks had previously gone on through bulletin board systems, binary newsgroups and semiprivate file transfer protocol servers, Napster was a key innovation. This essentially hobbyist software made it easier for users to locate and access music, and significantly broadened the participation in the exchange of illicitly copied music. Napster’s ease of use – as well as the broad range of music available – led to the rapid development of a large user base. While estimates of the number of Napster users vary between 25 million and 80 million, between February and August 2000 users grew from 1.1 million to 6.7 million, making Napster the fastest-growing software application ever.

Consumers, crime and the downloading of music

Rutter, J. 2010. “Consumers, crime and the downloading of music”, Prometheus: Critical Studies in Innovation, 28(4), pp. 411-418.

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